Minority Leader Themis Klarides and House Speaker Brendan Sharkey blocked a new bill that would have made it easier than ever for U.S. firefighters to receive workers compensation. Had it passed, the bill would have created “the presumption that firefighters diagnosed with many forms of cancer contracted the disease on the job and are thus eligible for workers’ compensation,” according to the Hartford Courant. What’s wrong with that? Why is it a problem?
Firefighters’ Cancer May Not Be As Straightforward As It Seems
Governing under the assumption that firefighters who get cancer get cancer on the job isn’t entirely correct — and, in some cases, it may be pretty much misguided. Advances in technology and new studies suggest that firefighters’ cancers have many possible origins and very few relate back to their duties at work. Here’s why: First, training, cleaning procedures, and protective equipment has all improved immeasurably. That means the number of firefighters who get cancer on the job should be on a notable downward trend. What’s more, “By some studies, firefighters spend only 5% of their time fighting fires,” the Hartford Courant continues. As these servicemen and women devote less time to actually fighting fires, cancer rates should also decrease. The new bill would have granted firefighters workers compensation and substantiated workers compensation claims based on a presumption — not documents, records, and facts.
Is It Time To Get A Worker Compensation Lawyer?
Since 2011, workers compensation laws have protected and continue to protect approximately 125.8 million employees who are somehow hurt at work. Winning a job lawsuit and/or receiving workers compensation can be a pretty big deal, with 70% of winnings replacing missed wages and the other 30% accounting for benefits and healthcare costs. As such, firefighters wrongfully claiming these benefits can be a serious thing — one that may ultimately effect fire departments’ budgets. Even so, firefighters with a valid claim may need more documentation than ever before. For that reason, it is best to rely on a trusted legal professional.
In 2011, workers all over the U.S. received an estimated $60.2 billion after being hurt or getting sick on the job. That’s a lot of money and by blocking a new bill, lawmakers have saved fire departments money, while making it a bit more difficult for firefighters to receive benefits.